ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Kids and hot cars don’t mix

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

The summer heat is back, and unfortunately some parents have faced legal consequences after leaving their children unattended in cars.

Chessany Marie Robbins, 23, of Anderson, was arrested on June 9 and charged with five counts of Level 6 felony neglect after five children were left in a van on a 74-degree day. When an officer arrived, according to Anderson police, the children had been in the vehicle for about 30 minutes while Robbins was at a medical appointment.

The officer said the temperature was 74 degrees outside and the humidity was 84%.

Robbins’ sister, Mikayla R. Gordon, 27, was also charged with five counts of Level 6 felony neglect of a dependent.

On June 25, Anderson police were notified of two children in an unattended vehicle in the city utilities parking lot. Stephanie Syroney, 26, of Anderson, is charged with two counts of Level 6 felony neglect of a dependent.

In these cases, the children were fortunate that someone intervened before the worst could happen. Others haven’t been so fortunate.

Last year, Britni Nicole Wihebrink was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 2018 death of her 2-year-old son, Jaxon Stults.

Wihebrink admitted that she was intoxicated and asleep at the time Jaxon left her apartment, entered the vehicle and closed the door. Several hours later, Jaxon was found unresponsive and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

In the last week, we’ve experienced some scorchers, and more summer heat is on the way. The weather forecast for Independence Day predicts a high near 88 degrees, with temperatures creeping into the low 90s this week.

At these temperatures, the inside of a car can reach temperatures over 130 degrees.

According to Consumer Reports, about 38 children die each year from vehicular heat stroke, and even in cooler weather the interior of a vehicle can become dangerously hot.

Some might think that it’s OK to leave children in a car with the engine and air conditioner running, but heat is not the only danger to consider.

In a running vehicle, children are at risk of kidnapping or endangering themselves by messing with the vehicle’s controls.

It is never a good idea to leave small children unattended in a vehicle.

Last summer was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, which was beyond anyone’s control. Let’s enjoy this summer without inviting preventable tragedies that come from leaving children exposed to heat and other dangers.